I don’t usually write about the specific, at least when it comes to periods of time. I’ve written about eras of my life many times. I’ve based whole pieces on feelings that are associated with certain times, over and over again.
I could go on about how time is a construct created by humans to measure the immeasurable. But, I won’t. The thing is, I’m good at remembering dates. I know all the birthdays of my cousins and their children and old coworkers and roommates. I can tell you the date of my first kiss.
What about years?
In the wake of recent events, past and ongoing, I cannot turn around without hearing: “2016 was a garbage fire.” Point taken, of course. The deaths and violence and uncertain futures ahead of us are very real. I do not mean to trivialize the state of our world.
But I’m having a particularly hard time with this because this year was not a horrible year for me. I might even say that 2016 was very good to me. And this — this bit of fondness I feel towards 2016 — has been sitting in my chest, huddled up in shame.
I can’t say that I’m grateful for 2016 out loud, in public, because it was so difficult for so many people. I’m not asking for fairness, I know that doesn’t exist outside of human control. I only want to be able to look back at the beauty of 2016 and not have it be overshadowed by the horrors of it. I want to remember that 2016 was the year I found my career groove and the year I decided to marry my best friend.
I want to remember that I grew as a person, and I did good things for my family and friends, and that they supported me in my happiness. I want to remember the pure joy and maniacal laughter and happy tears that poured down my face as I drove home from Nobska Light after Michael proposed. I want to remember the feel and smell of salt water hovering in the air outside of my apartment. I want to remember the happiness.
I hope that’s okay. I need to do it, or I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep going.
I won’t forget the tragedies, and I won’t avoid them. I promise. But I won’t be able to push forward and work towards more good things if I feel like I can’t embrace the happiness I’ve had.
Isn’t that the wisdom of it?
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
This was originally written in January of 2017.